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Belarus might recognize breakaway territories

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 2
The Foreign Ministry of Belarus made a statement on October 30th that out of "national interest" Minsk might recognize the sovereignty of the Georgian breakaway territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Analysts immediately speculated as to the cause of this.

After the Georgian Dream coalition won the parliamentary elections in Georgia last month Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko officially invited Georgia back into the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Both the outgoing and incoming Georgian governments declined the invitation to the Russian-dominated organization. Analysts interpreted this invitation as being prompted by Moscow. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei commented on the issue immediately after meeting with his Russian counterpart. Makei stated that "times change" and though Belarus has not altered its position vis-a-vis the two breakaway regions the situation "might be analyzed again". The Kremlin has used its power before to gain international recognition for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia effectively bribed several South Pacific and Central American countries to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the 2008 war. In 2008 Lukashenko promised the Kremlin that Belarus would recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However he later reneged on this promise. In the last year Moscow has exercised different strategies to get Belarus to recognize the two statelets, sometimes applying pressure and sometimes bribing. Minsk meanwhile has kept flirting with Moscow to gain as much advantage as possible from its unclear position. Some analysts have suggested that the recent agreement on natural gas and oil between Moscow and Minsk is part of Russia's plan to woo Belarus towards recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Perhaps Lukashenko is gambling, but it seems clear that Minsk can sacrifice its relationship with Georgia if it receives more benefits from Russia. Otherwise Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not represent strategically important national interest issues for Belarus.